The run-of-the-mill office is one where a company conducts its business with a warren of offices, a computer network and a span of employees. At the month end, it parts with a hefty cheque for utility bills and rent.
The new office is one that is taking shape at the Gaborone CBD and could revolutionise the concept of “office” or “work” itself in a rapidly growing city where young professionals want to make their mark.
The “co-working office”, as it is called, comes courtesy of Icowork (Pty) Ltd, a citizen-owned start-up, which is currently in the throes of introducing this novelty to other start-ups, freelancers, small businesses and visiting business travellers. The facilities are located at Matante Mews, Unit 5 and will start operating in January next year.
Managing Member of Icowork, Kagiso Tshukudu, revealed that the new concept of co-working is an innovative office-tailored solution that will allow businesses to form a community of professionals who will work from the same small place with shared facilities.
He said that the objectives of this kind of work environment are to establish professional relationships, cut operating costs as well as broaden general business knowledge and skills.
Instead of the traditional tenant lease agreement, the company offers flexible membership arrangement ranging from daily, weekly, monthly to annual tenancy.
“Most importantly, the space enhances the building of relationships for members to grow professionally by interacting with fellow professionals across sectors. The result is a kind of work environment that is inspiring, collaborative and offers potential to grow one’s professional development,” Tshukudu said at a pre-opening session last week.
Personally, he has been a freelancer for the past 12 years and is well-acquainted with the ins and outs as well as advantages and disadvantages of being an independent professional.
“The fact that you do not have a proper professional structure means that you lose out on the ever growing corporate trends. Icowork will therefore fill that gap while you continue to work for yourself but not by yourself,” he said.
One of the key services that the company will provide is the monthly business talk events, where clients will network in an informal setup and discuss various core issues that affect small business such as tax, financial planning, and business development.
“It is a journey that started 12 months ago with a bit of travel to more developed cities to benchmark and ensure that our product is up to international standard,” revealed Tshukudu.
One of his impressions from such travel is that the world is collaborating more than ever before with America, Europe, Asia being big in the forefront of co-working. The concept is also finding its way into Africa, a continent which is always late when it comes to innovation.
“Africa has been slow but there has been an upsurge in recent years in South Africa, as well as in East and North African countries. This is due to the increasing complexity of the city economies and the recent economic downturn which led to more innovation and creativity,” Tshukudu stated.
He holds the view that the knowledge economy and smart cities that everyone wishes to attain do not just come about because of fancy buildings and infrastructure. Instead, they are a result of creative and innovative city residents who choose to push boundaries and solve the ever complex challenges of evolving cities.
“The management of Icowork has decided to go where the world is going. We believe that our city is ready given the good number of qualified independent professionals and small businesses who wish to work at the best location in town,” he said.
The company chose to set up in the CBD because it determined that offers the most convenient location for professional consultancy firms.
“We also believe that the CBD should not be dominated by government ministries and big corporations. We should balance the tenancy mix of the CBD to avoid class segregation and elitist impressions. Small business can be creative and run their businesses from here and not be intimidated by it,” Tshukudu asserted.
The capacity at the Icowork facilities is 20 work stations, which are currently about half full and some more applications are still being processed. The daily rate is P250, excluding VAT and usage of the boardroom; the monthly rate is P2 800, excluding VAT but including access to all office amenities; six-month membership guarantees round-the-clock access and the normal business hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Boardroom use for non-members is P200 per hour.